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Leicestershire & Rutland Ornithological Society
The Charnwood Woods



Benscliffe Wood © Andy Mackay

OS Landranger 129

Charnwood Forest covers an area of some nine by six miles, roughly bordered by Loughborough to the north, Markfield to the south, Coalville to the west and Mountsorrel to the east. Within this area there are many woods of varying size and age, and Leicestershire's few remaining fragments of heathland/upland moorland. The majority of the woods are private, but parts of most can be viewed from public roads or footpaths. The most popular and accessible sites are:

Swithland Wood
There are car parks (£1.00 charge) at SK 537 117 and SK 537 129, and public access to the wood at all times. Please keep to the main footpaths, as the shrub layer in the wood has been seriously eroded over the years by the effects of visitors (and their dogs) straying from the paths. Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers may be seen anywhere in the wood, but are elusive and uncommon. Wood Warblers used to be regular, but have declined markedly in recent years. A good place to see roding

  Swithland Wood © Andy Mackay

Woodcocks at dawn or dusk in spring and summer is the spoil tip adjacent to the disused slate quarry at SK 539 121. Pied Flycatchers are a possibility in spring, but are more likely to be seen at Beacon Hill (see below).

Beacon Hill Country Park
Situated north-west of Woodhouse Eaves, there are two car parks (£1 charge) at SK 510 146 and SK 522 148. The park is divided roughly into two habitats: woodland at the eastern end, and bracken-covered 'heathland' at the western end. The main ornithological interest of the woodland is the small number of Pied Flycatchers which has appeared in the last few years, but all the common woodland species may be found, with occasional Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers. The heath holds several pairs of Tree Pipits in summer, but not much else. The beeches around the western car park sometimes have good numbers of Bramblings in invasion winters.

Benscliffe/Blakeshay/Lea Wood
These conifer plantations, north of Newtown Linford, are in various stages of being felled; consequently some of the clear-felled areas are worth looking at for species such as Tree Pipit, Siskin, Woodcock and hopefully Woodlark and Nightjar in the near future! Benscliffe has in fact already had a churring Nightjar (in 1999), but sadly it did not return in either of the following two summers. Crossbills have also been seen in these woods in invasion years, and Buzzards are now resident. The elusive Charnwood Ravens are also a possibility anywhere in the area. All the woods are private, but parts, including several felled areas, can be seen from public roads, at: SK 511 112, SK 502 117 and SK 509 128, amongst others.

Outwoods
This wood lies south of Loughborough, on the Nanpantan - Woodhouse Eaves road. There is a car park at SK 515 159, and several footpaths throughout the wood. Species are similar to those at Swithland Wood.

Beacon Hill © Jim Graham
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